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September 21, 2018

Somali herders, farmers fight over Kilifi pasture

A herder with cattle in Mokowe, Lamu/ALPHONCE GARI
A herder with cattle in Mokowe, Lamu/ALPHONCE GARI

A row is simmering between Somali herders and residents at Mnagoni ranch over grazing fields.

The residents on Sunday said Somali herders invaded the area. They also accused the local administration of bringing the herders without consulting them.

The residents said the administrators renewed a lease agreement with the pastoralists for two more months, despite calls to terminate the contract.

They want Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and DPP Noordin Haji to launch investigations into the issue.

The residents have accused some administrators of taking money from the pastoralists, saying they should be held accountable.

Ranch chairman Nelson Kazungu said the herders lead the animals into their farms. He spoke at a baraza in Mnagoni centre, Bamba.

“The Somali pastoralists stormed our land with thousands of camels, cattle and goats. We have planted maize for food, but they don’t care about that,” Kazungu said.

He added that the livestock drink from water pans meant for domestic use.

Ramadhan Konde said the administration has not protected the residents and is instead taking advantage of the residents’ poverty and illiteracy.

Konde said: “The pastoralists will go through our chiefs and their assistants. They convince them to support the herders."

“Sometimes we are called for meetings with the chief to be told a Somali herder will be coming and they will stay for six months.”

Konde said the betrayal by the chiefs and their assistant has created bad blood with residents, who have started boycotting barazas. 

“We are no longer attending the meetings, which has caused them to use lies to lure people to the forums. The lies include telling us the assistant county commissioner will be attending,” he said.

 Mnagoni Primary management board member Franklin Muthengi said the school was once closed for seven years due to insecurity caused by Somali criminal gangs.

Muthengi said the problem might recur if not addressed urgently. More than 700 school children will be affected, he added.

Former Bamba MCA Daniel Mangi urged the state  to prevent violence and get rid of the pastoralists.

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